Chapter Six: The Problem of Hell

My Problem With God Is…

Sunday, September 29

Clark outlines some of the obstacles people raise regrading hell. How can an all-loving God judge people? Why does God condemn people eternally for what they do in a finite amount of time? Why is it necessary for hell to involve a kind of torture (i.e., eternal fire, brimstone, etc.)? Or desire to not experience hell should never be driven by fear of hell, but instead, by love for Jesus. Jesus spent much of his time sharing about the love of God, but also the wrath of God. To deny the existence of hell is to deny the teachings and person of Jesus. He goes on to explain why he feels it is not easy to accept but necessary as well as just. He believes hell will not be the same for everyone, is not a torture chamber, but is a place of emotional, psychological, and relational suffering and anguish where we are allowed to be our own god and are allowed to sustain and provide for ourselves. “Hell is a place where Satan is punished. It is the culmination of his defeat by God, and God is sovereign over it, not Satan.” “Hell was originally designed for Satan, not people.”

Getting Started:

  1. Up until this point, what has been your understanding of hell? How did that understanding motivate you towards, or away from Christianity?
  2. Share what portions of the book or the Sunday morning message increased your confidence that Jesus is a loving, tender father, that also has created a repulsive place called hell?
  3. How would you describe the relationship between God’s characteristics of love and tenderness, as well as righteousness and justice? Does one negate the other, if some are achieved through the means of hell?
  4. Clark shares how his own father and grandfather who have died never openly professed their faith in Jesus. Have you had experiences with death where you questioned someone’s faith? What emotions did you wrestle with? What truths brought comfort? Did realities of scripture and that experience affect change in your own life? How would you counsel someone else in similar situation?

Going Deeper:

  1. It has been said that Hell is an Old Testament principle or idea. How does Jesus’s frequent mention of hell, and its attributes change your perspective?
  2. How would you describe hell to a 8 year old? What attributes would you use to describe it? Is it made of fire? Is God there? Is Satan in charge? Is it physical torture?
  3. Do you believe people are forced into hell against their will? Philosopher J.P. Moreland contends that hell is a place for people who, given what is needed to belong in heaven, do not want to go to heaven. Thus, hell is the natural consequence of the choices people make. How does this statement affect you?